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World Cup

Morocco Predicted XI to face Portugal: El Yamiq in for injured Aguerd?

06:40 GMT 10/12/2022
Jawad El Yamiq.
The Atlas Lions hope to overcome the Selecao to become the first African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals

Morocco have already had a historic run at the 2022 World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals but they can set more records by becoming the first African country to make it to the semi-finals of the global tournament.

However, getting there will be a tall order given they are up against 2016 European champions Portugal in their last-eight tie at the Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui has resisted the temptation to make many changes to his side, going with a virtually unchanged starting XI and ahead of the meeting with Selecao, only the injured Nayef Aguerd is likely to be replaced in the team that overcame Spain in the Round of 16.

GOAL predicts how the Atlas Lions are likely to line up against Portugal as they seek to add the Selecao to their list of casualties.

  • Yassine Bounou.

    Goalkeeper: Yassine Bounou

    The shootout hero against Spain, the Sevilla goalkeeper is assured of his place in goal after an impressive game in the Round of 16.

    Bounou saved two penalties after the game was forced into the post-match spot-kicks and that came after making two key saves that kept his team in the game until then.

    With his experience and confidence also high, Regargui will be hoping that the 31-year-old acts as the last line of defence yet again against the Portuguese who are loaded with an array of attacking talent.

  • Achraf Hakimi.

    Right-back: Achraf Hakimi

    Another certainty in the starting XI, the Paris Saint-Germain defender scored the winning penalty in the shootout, having put in a great performance in 120 minutes.

    Hakimi has played every minute of Morocco's World Cup tournament with his ability to contribute both in defence and attack crucial to the Atlas Lions' good run.

    With Morocco likely to hand possession to Portugal as they did against Spain, Hakimi will have to do a lot of defending while waiting for his moments to go forward or deliver crosses from deep as he did against Canada.

  • Romain Saiss Morocco.

    Centre-back: Romain Saiss

    The Morocco captain has been the leader of a defence that has conceded just once in four games and will be key again as the North Africans eye another clean sheet.

    With his team likely to be on the backfoot for most of the contest, his tackling, movement and communication will be vital given Morocco cannot afford to hand Portugal set pieces in dangerous areas as they have players capable of hurting them.

    Saiss limped on in the dying minutes of Tuesday's contest with what appeared to be a hamstring injury but he still looks set to start his fifth straight match.

  • Jawad El Yamiq.

    Centre-back: Jawad El Yamiq

    With Nayef Aguerd injured, Saiss is set to get a new centre-back partner at it is likely to be Valladolid defender Jawad El Yamiq who replaced the West Ham man when he went off against Spain.

    Regargui could still opt for Qatar SC defender Badr Benoun but El Yamiq impressed in the 37 minutes he was on the pitch at a time when Spain were piling on the pressure and could just edge it.

    El Yamiq's height also puts him in good stead as he complements Saiss, especially in winning aerial battles as the captain sweeps on the ground.

  • Noussair Mazraoui Morocco.

    Left-back: Noussair Mazraoui

    Another mainstay in the starting XI, the Bayern Munich full-back completes the defensive setup for Morocco.

    Mazraoui, like Hakimi, is good at going forward to support the wingers and also knows when to stay put in his position to keep away danger, something he did so well against Spain.

    The fullback's bravery will also come in handy as he is never afraid to tuck inside and supply passes in an effort to help his team play through the lines.

  • Sofyan Amrabat Morocco.

    Central midfield: Sofyan Amrabat

    The Fiorentina midfielder is the man who dictates the tempo of the game, and after playing a starring role in the Round of 16, only a late injury will lock him out of the team.

    Amrabat is a great passer of the ball and good at slotting in at centre-back to provide cover whenever one of the defenders vacates his position.

    He did it ever so well on Tuesday, linking up play, while ensuring the defence was not exposed, a task he will be required to perform again on at the Al Thumama Stadium.

  • Azzedine Ounahi Morocco.

    Central midfield: Azzedine Ounahi

    Ounahi received glowing praise from the now departed Spain coach Luis Enrique after making life difficult for his team.

    Playing alongside Amrabat, he offers extra defensive cover for Morocco, making it difficult to break them down and makes forward runs when necessary to try and supply passes to the front three.

    Ounahi will be key to Morocco keeping their shape in Saturday's contest given they will do more defensive than offensive work.

  • Selim Amallah of Morocco.

    Attacking midfield: Selim Amallah

    Another one likely to keep his place in the starting XI, Amallah formed a tight midfield three alongside Amrabat and Ounahi, and it is difficult to see Regragui changing that.

    The Morocco coach prefers him when his team comes up against an offensive side with his ability to win tackles in midfield while offering calmness when defending.

    He also operates in a free role on occasion and if Morocco have to assert themselves through the middle of the park, he will be the instigator.

  • Hakim Ziyech.

    Right wing: Hakim Ziyech

    Morocco's go-to man at the World Cup, Ziyech has provided plenty of attacking spark and he will be the Atlas Lion's danger man yet again.

    He was kept quiet against Spain when his team saw little of the ball as he had no room to roam in. He will, however, will still be required to come up with the magic whenever Morocco gain possession.

    The Chelsea winger scored one of Morocco's three penalties on Tuesday but he will hope to use his great vision and finish to try and complete the game early from the chances that will fall his way.

  • Youssef En-Nesyri of Morocco after scoring against Canada.

    Striker: Youssef En-Nesyri

    The Sevilla striker did not have a great game against Spain but will likely keep his place upfront given Morocco do not have top strikers to replace him.

    En-Nesyri acts as a threat both in the air and on the ground with his ability to slot in between the central defenders key to creating space for others or forcing opportunities for himself.

    His work rate out of possession will also be required in plenty since he is adept at tracking back when his team is on the back foot.

  • Sofiane Boufal Morocco.

    Left wing: Sofiane Boufal

    Boufal has formed part of an unbreakable Morocco front three and he will be handed a place in the starting XI again.

    Yet to score in Qatar, the Angers man offers more than just goals given his work rate in and out of possession as witnessed against the 2010 world champions.

    He operated in a deep position on Tuesday as he helped Mazraoui to keep away danger and this will likely be the case against Fernando Santos' team.